Google Photos is a great gallery app with a ton of cool features. But more importantly, it is also an online storage solution to keep your photos safe in the cloud and is accessible on any other device by just signing in to your Google Account. But what set it apart was unlimited photo storage. Well, as they say, every good thing must come to an end. Starting today – that is June 1 – Google Photos no longer offers free cloud storage for your pictures and videos.
“As of June 1, 2021, any new photos or videos you back up in High quality (now named Storage saver) or Express quality will count toward your 15 GB of Google Account storage,” says the official Google Photos support page. Starting today, every photo you click and sync on the cloud will take up some storage that will be counted towards the 15GB of free Google Drive space that is awarded to every person with a Google account.
Nothing will happen to your old photos though
All photos that you’ve clicked before June 1 and saved on the cloud will remain exempt from the policy change and won’t be counted towards your 15GB cloud storage quota. Only the pictures and videos clicked June 1 onwards will be counted towards the 15GB limit if you choose to enable the auto-sync feature in Google Photos. This applies to photos clicked in both High quality and Express quality. Following are two more points you should consider:
- As usual, photos and videos backed up in Original quality will be counted towards your Google Account storage.
- Original quality photos that were later converted to Storage saver quality after June 1 will be counted toward your Google Account storage.
The aforementioned restrictions will be applicable to all users with a Google account and Google Photos running on their device. But there’s one exception – the Pixel series of phones. If you happen to own a Pixel smartphone by Google, you will continue to enjoy free unlimited storage for photos and videos saved in high quality. However, the rules differ between the phones when it comes to storing photos at original quality. You can find more details about these model-exclusive Google Photos policy for Pixel smartphones here.
What are your options?
If you like the convenience afforded by Google Photos, there are only two options – either clean your storage by deleting photos, or buy more cloud storage using the Google One service. You can choose from multiple tiers based on the amount of storage you need. The $2/month plan will give you 100GB of cloud storage, the $3/month plan doubles it to 200GB, while the $10/month plan will give you 2TB of cloud storage for storing your media. You can check the pricing and availability of Google One subscription in your region here.
The second option is to look for alternatives. Here, your options include Microsoft’s One Drive, Apple’s iCloud, Mega, Box, Amazon Photos, and Flickr to name a few. Most of these services offer a few gigs of free cloud storage too. And if you’re smart enough, you can allocate/move your photos between these services to avoid eating up the 15GB of Google account storage. Need a solid alternative? Try Plex, which my colleague Adam has been using instead of Google Photos, and has also written about it here.